One Victory, Two Elections, Four Lessons For Republicans

Since this column is focused like a laser beam on the 2008 presidential election, I don't have all that much to say about down ballot races and elections.

But given the recent Massachusetts CD 5 special election and Bobby Jindal's victory in LA, a few points come to mind.

(1) Even without Katrina, Louisiana has a political milieu all of its own, and Jindal ran as an anti-corruption, can-do reformer. You would not know, from his ads, that he was a Republican, a Democrat, or an independent.

(2) Jim Ogonowski was universally regarded as a better candidate that Nikki Tsongas; this war vet he ran to the left of many Democratic presidential candidates on the war; he benefited from grassroots Republican internet support; Tsongas was treated roughly by the press; -- talented Republicans who run campaigns that comport to the moods of their districts can be competitive against Democrats.

(2.5) -- Backed by the national party, Tsongas defeated a popular Lowell councilwoman in the Democratic primary; shades of Tammy Duckworth: Tsongas drew the resentment of liberal activists whose candidate she defeated.

(3) The RNC's get-out-the-vote machinery is still potent and formidable; they greatly assisted Jindal in voter registration, voter re-registration and his GOTV efforts.

(4) Neither Jindal nor Ogonowski ran as ideological ciphers; not as social conservatives (although Jindal is a social conservative), not as a doctrinaire free-marketeer, not as national security conservatives. They ran specifically, not generally.